Re: Degree

Subject: Re: Degree
From: "Green, Stan" <Stan -dot- Green -at- AAI-US -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 16:15:48 -0600

As a publication manager I would not hire any technical communicator without
a degree. Why... because I believe that Technical Communications is a
profession not a trade. I believe a technical Communicator is as valuable to
a corporation as and Engineer, or Accountant; therefore, should be treated
accordingly and also have core prerequisite skills just like any other
recognized profession. A college degree does not make one smarter, but it
shows that a person has had the discipline required to obtain a 4-year
degree. Most corporations have professional grade levels with a BS or BA
degree requirement attached to each level. You may argue that a degree is
not required to be a technical communicator..... but there are plenty of
writers and managers who once where writers who can attest the importance
attached to having a degree. The difference in having a degree and not
having degree is not only bucks but stagnation and burn-out.... wait 10 to
15 years to answer.



-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Starr [mailto:mike -dot- starr -at- PLATINUM -dot- COM]
Sent: Monday, December 07, 1998 11:55 AM
Subject: Re: Degree

Well, I'm one of those without an undergraduate degree myself. In
due to having no skills in the midst of a recession, I returned to school in
my early 30s and graduated from a local technical school with an Associate
Applied Science in Electromechanical Technology (they subtitled it Robotics)
in 1985. I immediately littered the countryside with resumes, submitting
myself for any job I felt even REMOTELY qualified for. One of them was for a
job as a Technical Writer and I figured, hell, I can do that.

A company in Chicago called me in for an interview and asked me to bring
writing samples so I brought my couple pathetic school projects as well as
one essay that I'd written in homage to my old car but never actually
submitted to anyone. Dave, the Publications Manager, must have seen some
potential there as he offered me a position as a Technical Writer at the
princely salary of $20,000 which I immediately accepted before he realized
enormous blunder he'd made.

Dave took me in and turned me into a technical writer and I'll always be
grateful for that. I can't begin to tell you how much he taught me with his
patience and red pen. It took me a long time before I stopped feeling like
imposter and started actually believing that I was a REAL technical writer
now I can swagger and boast with the best of 'em. The company's fortunes
turned sour and I and a bunch of others were laid off in 1992 but thanks to
that first technical writing job, I've found a career that I looked for all

I've since gone on to acquire a second Associate degree, an Associate in
Applied Science in Technical Communications from the same technical school
have never come anywhere near to having a bachelor's degree. As far as I can
tell, it hasn't hurt my job prospects at all. There's only one situation I
found myself in where my lack of a bachelor's degree "damaged" me. One
I worked for decided to overhaul the job descriptions and create four
levels of technical writer rather than just a single generic title. It was
decided that we would all be "Technical Communicators" and that there would
"Technical Communicator 1" through "Technical Communicator 3" as well as
"Technical Communicator Intern".

When it came time to convert us to our new titles, I felt that since I had
years of experience and was well respected and highly productive, that I
should be a "Technical Communicator 3" but one of the little "gotchas" in
job description was that a "Technical Communicator 3" had to have been
published in a professional journal or presented a paper at a professional
conference. Well, none of us had anything like that so we were all denied
highest category by this particular nit. I got myself in a little bit of a
snit about it and complained. One of the other nits in the new job
descriptions that they were perfectly willing to overlook was that in order
be a "Technical Communicator 1" to "Technical Communicator 3", you were
required to have a bachelor's degree. So, I told the powers that be that if
they were going to stick to their guns about having to have published or
presented in order to be a "Technical Communicator 3" then they obviously
would have to stick to their guns about the Bachelor's degree requirement.
from that day on, I changed my title to "Technical Communicator Intern".

I've often thought about returning to school to get a bachelor's degree, but
at this stage, I can't see that it would benefit me in the least. I'm making
plenty of money, I'm with a great company, every time I've ever been between
jobs the phone starts ringing. Who needs it?? Not me, that's for sure.


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